The family of Ida B. Wells-Barnett—the influential Civil Rights leader who led an anti-lynching movement and was an advocate for women’s suffrage—is looking to commemorate her legacy through the creation of a monument in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Over the course of her life, Wells-Barnett made major contributions to the city, the news outlet writes. She launched several Chicago-based organizations that helped African Americans rise up the ranks in politics—resulting in the election of the city’s first Black alderman—and she created the first kindergarten program for Black children.
Years after her death, a housing project located on the South Side of Chicago was named after her but has since been demolished because it was plagued by drugs and violence. After the complex was torn down, there hasn’t been any monuments created in her honor and her loved ones are planning on changing that. They don’t want her legacy to be overshadowed by the reputation of the housing complex.
“For 60 years her name was spoken across Chicago. But her name became associated with things she wouldn’t have stood for: poverty, violence, crime,” Michelle Duster, Wells-Barnett’s great-granddaughter told the Chicago Tribune. “She had her name on a community, but that didn’t reflect who she really was. We need a true testament to her life.” Duster, her family, and a group of volunteers have spearheaded fundraising efforts over the past 10 years to raise money for the creation of a large-scale memorial for Wells. They haven’t been able to reach their $300,000 goal, but hopes that bringing her legacy back to the forefront will give their efforts a push.
Until the group raises enough money for the monument, the city of Chicago is honoring Wells in other ways. In May, a part of 37th Street and South King Drive will be named after her. Monuments of powerful Black women are replacing Confederate statues around the country. In March it was announced that Mary McLeod Bethune—a notable Black educator—will have her own monument in place of a statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith that stands at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.